Human Rights across Borders
The introduction makes a case for critically examining human rights by engaging with the work of Hannah Arendt. It centers on the pervasive problems faced by millions of migrants who become vulnerable to various forms of violence, discrimination, and abuse as they cross borders. Despite the significant developments in the field of human rights since the time Arendt completed her analysis of statelessness, asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants continue to find themselves in a condition of rightlessness, understood in terms of a precarious legal, political, and human standing. This paradox (i.e., the perplexing rightlessness of those who appear in their bare humanity) raises caveats against understanding human rights as the harbingers of a postnational, denationalized, or cosmopolitan era characterized by the decline of territorial sovereignty and the dissociation of rights from citizenship status. The introduction highlights the need to grapple with this paradox by undertaking a critical analysis of human rights—one that closely engages with Arendt’s political theory and takes it in new directions by rethinking its main concepts and arguments in the light of the contemporary problems and struggles of migrants.
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